Why PR pros should treat journalists with courtesy and respect

Even if your pitch gets ignored altogether, copping a snippy attitude won’t benefit you in either the short or long term. Reconsider your approach with these guidelines.

When PR pros are rude to journalists, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

In studying media relations, we were taught that journalists are to be treated like gold. You’re there to make their jobs easier, getting them what they need to tell the story, working with them to help them understand the brand’s position and offering sources who can lend their perspectives.

I advocate adopting a service-oriented attitude when working with journalists. It seems like common sense. As the saying goes, “You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar,” so why not adopt an attitude of being helpful?

Consider the journalist’s position:

· They receive multiple pitches per day—some receive hundreds per week—and use their discretion to choose which stories to pursue. They can’t say yes to every pitch; if they respond to you at all, be thankful.

· You’re asking the reporter for something—not the other way around. Journalists don’t owe us anything. In addition to bringing something of value to the table, we should be mindful of our behavior toward and treatment of reporters. Do you honestly believe that having a sense of entitlement or being rude to a journalist (let alone anyone in business—or in life) will serve you well in the end? Probably not. Although civility may be dying a slow death, let’s keep it alive in our media relations efforts.

· You want to build a good relationship, and having a snippy attitude isn’t the way to do it. Your media contacts said no this time, but the next time, they might say yes—if you haven’t burned that bridge by responding with a negative attitude.

· Have empathy: Reporters wear many hats these days, as staffs continue to shrink. Though they might wish to respond to every pitch, it isn’t humanly possible.

· Did you look closely at the pitch you sent? Was it a good fit for what they cover? Was it well written? Did you proof it for errors? Those seem like basics, but paying attention to such details will make your pitch stand out in a sea of poorly written pitches full of errors. The quality of writing has rapidly gone downhill; don’t add to that trend.

From the conversations I’ve had recently with journalists, PR folks need a reminder of how the relationship is supposed to work—and they must treat reporters and editors with courtesy.

Michelle Garrett is a PR consultant and writer at Garrett Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter @PRisUs or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Topics: PR

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